What the heck is Anarchy No Prep? (A history lesson)
Anarchy No Prep is the largest No Prep event in the northern midwest, and traces its roots back to the very inception of the No Prep genre more than a decade ago. As many familiar with No Prep racing already know, the event credited with launching the genre was “Chitown’s King of the Streets”, better known simply as “KOTS”, in late 2008. Stemming from an idea suggested by a fellow southside street racer known simply as “Figgy”, Promoter Stephen “Heyyosteve” Gillaspie and Technical Director Trent “Voice of Reason” Eckhardt devised what would later be known as the very first no prep race. (Eckhardt explained that they actually called it “Unprepped” for the first few years until the term “No Prep” was coined by Shannon Morgan, with the advent of her “Redemption: Texas Original No Prep” series in 2014) KOTS went very much against the grain of conventional drag racing, successfully merging the grit of street racing with the increased safety (and legality) of track racing into an event the likes of which the nation had never seen before. Starting as a closed-to-the-public private event, the exclusivity combined with unheard of purses and the prestige of winning, KOTS drew racers from all across the nation. In fact, the very first winner, Chris “Boostedgt” Hamilton, is now practically a household name as one the most popular racers and racemasters from the “Street Outlaws” and “No Prep Kings” TV shows.
Late 2018 brought upon the unexpected cancellation of the 20th installment of KOTS, some 3 weeks before the actual event itself. With a full roster of racers and fans left wondering “WTF?”, Eckhardt made the difficult decision to sever his ties with the event he helped create, and got right to work. Within days, the first Anarchy No Prep was announced to fill the void left behind by KOTS departure, and in 3 short weeks the idea became a reality, with a tremendously successful “first” effort. WIth 4 motorcycle classes and 8 car classes, it offered something for just about everybody. The revolutionary “Zillion Little Classes” format engineered by Eckhardt (and executed flawlessly by Technical Director Nick “Nicky” Frank) kept the action flowing so freely that there were actually complaints received from fans who didn’t have time to go to the bathroom without missing any of the action!! (Not a bad problem to have, really)
Rounding out the newly minted management staff were Mark “Outplayn” Mueller charged with coordinating the motorcycle classes, Jimmy Dodaro assisting Mueller as well as filling the vital role of Staging Lane Coordinator, and Eckhardt’s 13-year old son Luke “learning the ropes” by assisting Jimmy in the lanes, helping to get racers paired up correctly and efficiently. With additional staff in place as deemed by Eckhardt and Staff Manager Amanda Newell, the entire team accomplished what many thought to be impossible, and the results spoke for themselves. Eckhardt maintains the recipe is fairly simple, “Many people think the Promoter just does everything, but in reality my job is to try to predict the needs/wants of the racers and fans and shape the event accordingly. I rely heavily on (Nick) Frank to keep me in check and pointed in the right direction. He, (Mark) Mueller, Jimmy and Luke are the ‘boots on the ground’ that ensure we get things done. Amanda has been instrumental in arranging and managing the line and security staff that ensure we keep everyone safe, yet keep the cars flowing at a place many thought to be impossible for an event of this caliber. The hardest part for me was letting go of many of the organizational tasks I have done for years with KOTS, most of which fall under Nicky’s domain now. But, he has proven that he’s more than capable, and has improved several areas, and that frees me up to focus on my tasks.”
Redesigning the Junior Class
The hot news for 2021 was the release of the redesigned “Junior” class. Started in 2012 (as only the 2nd car class during those early KOTS years), Junior was the brainchild of Eckhardt. Aimed at attracting a new, more street oriented class of racers, it was more rule intensive than the existing/original 28” class, which was given the name “Senior” to complement the addition of Junior. Junior focused largely around a 26” tall DOT-approved drag radial, a staple that remains unchanged to this day. However, like many classes in any form of racing, the racers elevated their game (within the confines of the rules), and the advent of modern technology saw to it that class got “a little out of hand”, Eckhardt explains. The class saw declining numbers, as overlap with other classes in the program, so it was time for action. Faced with overhauling the existing class, or shelving the class entirely, Eckhardt chose the first option. “I’m kinda stubborn, and Junior was always my baby, so I felt it was only appropriate to give it another go before doing anything drastic”, he said. With that decision being made, he had his work cut out for him.
Starting with the tried-and-true 26” DOT drag radial focus, many of the existing rules were eliminated (many having existed solely to prevent Senior cars from dropping down, which is no longer an issue), and in an attempt to level the field as organically as possible, an unusual approach was determined–”Subjective Entry”. In short, racers were required to apply for the class, with a private committee (chaired by Eckhardt) approving/declining each entry based on the revised rules, and the spirit of the class.
The announcement was met with skepticism and controversy, but then something unusual started to happen….application after application rolled in. And another….and another. The target class size was 16, and literally overnight they were faced with 23 applications–and all but one were within the criteria set forth. Not one to argue with momentum, Eckhardt made the ‘executive decision’ to let it ride, capping it at 32 entries (no class is allowed to exceed 32 for logistical purposes). Within a few days, there were 32 entries approved, and 2 alternates in place as well. Just like that, history was made, with the largest Junior field in the class’s history being assembled–right out of the gate!!
Wait, hold up…what are ”Alternates”??
Alternates are approved, locked-in/paid entries that essentially sit on a list, much like waiting in line at a filled-to-capacity nightclub. If someone leaves (breaks, in this case), you can get in. Anarchy alternates have the added bonus of zero risk–if they don’t make the field, they get a full refund. Likewise, entries that are forced to drop out get a refund if there is an alternate to take their place. Eckhardt says the program has been very popular and effective, and suggests that other promoters/race organizers consider a similar approach to better serve the racers and encourage those “on the fence” to take a chance.
So, what’s next?
In short, Eckhardt maintains that the “new” Junior is a “first draft”, and that it’s bound to see some revisions to fine tune the class–after the dust settles from June. He is confident that a great time will be had by all, and that is his #1 priority. “I’ve been doing events a very long time”, he says. He went on to explain further, “I’ve learned that the most important thing is that we try to give people a great experience, no matter if they’re competing, crewing working or spectating. All of this stuff costs money, and at the end of the day there can only be one winner in any given class. I have made it my mission to make sure that everybody that comes through the gates leaves feeling like their money was well spent. Our gate admission is still holding at $25, and parking is still free. VIP wristbands are optional, as is pit parking and camping. Kids are discounted ($15 10-16; <10 are FREE). Regardless of how much you spend to attend, whether is $25 as a spectator or $500 as a Senior racer, my goal is the same–I want you leaving feeling good about it, that you got something for your money.”
Anarchy No Prep has cemented its place into the history books, truly offering something for everyone, in a safe and family friendly environment. 2020 was one of the most bizarre years in human history, yet Anarchy saw its largest turnout on record despite that. Needless to say, 2021 looks pretty bright for Anarchy No Prep!
Anarchy No Prep is coming to Great Lakes Dragaway (www.greatlakesdragaway.com) this June 12th! It’s a premier event that you do NOT want to miss!
For more info visit their website at www.anarchynoprep.com or find them everywhere on social media @anarchynoprep!!